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Save the Environment While Saving $$

By Sean Corbett in News on Nov 2, 2006 9:29PM

2006_10_green_roof.jpgOne of the coolest ideas happening in the city right now is the push for environmental friendliness. In 2005 22 city buildings were registered as “green,” and all new city buildings are to be green designs. The idea is that as builders become familiar with doing green projects they will be comfortable adding green aspects to private projects, and of course take advantage of governmental incentives to do such. Green roofs are the Mayor’s biggest selling point, and they are all over the place on the Department of Environment’s website.

Some incentives to go green (besides saving the environment): Grants to install green roofs (up to $5000 for small developments, $100,000 for big buildings downtown), and an expedited building permit application process. So far 51 developments have received building permits through the green permit process, and there are more than 200 green roofs installed or underway in the city. Expediting building permits is an interesting strategy; the city is admitting its permit-granting facilities don’t work very well and offering a sped-up process to developers willing to go green. Very clever.

Chicago is also doubling the total solar power output of installed solar panels by buying and installing another 1.3 megawatts at various affordable housing developments and laundromats. Chicago is not the sunniest place in the world, but c’mon, 3 megawatts of solar power in the whole city? That’s about as much power as 13 large SUVs…. There’s more power than that parked in the Chicagoist parking garage as we speak.

If you haven’t heard, there are beehives in the midst of the green roof on top of city hall. We’ve heard you can even take a tour of the roof, although we haven’t yet found out how to sign up. And the most well known green roof in the city? Millennium Park, of course. The park covers a parking garage, absorbs rain water, has solar panels to generate electricity, and provides many trippy photo opportunities.

Thanks to 416style for the image.